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Elevating Coaching Connections

AUTHOR: Travis Whiteford
DATE: 10 November 2023

Elevating Coaching Connections: Exploring Online and In-Person Communication Styles


Looking back, did Covid have mainly negative or positive effects on you? Everyone shivered at the name “Covid-19”, however now when looking back, we can see how this pandemic changed our entire way of life moving forward. In our fast-paced, connected world, coaching has evolved beyond the confines of face-to-face meetings. Thanks to the ever-advancing reach of technology, coaches and clients now have the wonderful option to connect online. This shift invites us to embark on a journey, exploring the distinctive benefits and drawbacks of both online and in-person coaching approaches.

Online coaching significantly enhances accessibility and convenience. With the use of todays technology, anyone can log onto a call without needing much more than an internet connection. No need to worry about distances or time zones – you can join a session right from your own cozy space. This means anyone, no matter how packed their schedule, can dive into coaching. It provides a way to reach people that previously was not accessible with ease and minimum effort.

The best part that online coaches have when it comes to online coaching is their flexibility, and guess what? The scheduling is all about you! Need a session squeezed in between meetings or after putting the kids to bed? Online coaching lets you do just that. This flexibility keeps you committed and on track for your personal growth journey, all while being able to control your space and time in which you decide to coach.

Plus, we've got an array of tools at our disposal! From video calls to messaging, you've got options galore. The amount of ways we can connect are way beyond that of in-person meetings, the option to have a call where you can turn off your camera and be the guide for someone in their space and where they are comfortable makes for such a safe and calm coaching call. These calls can now also be done on the go or even through text/email. All the ways to communicate are up to you and the coachee to find what works best and suits each individual.

But, you know, in this digital world, there are a few things to watch out for. Sometimes, what makes online coaching so handy can also bring in a few distractions. Your comfy space might just turn into a mini carnival of diversions. Staying focused? It's a skill both you and the coachee will have to master and be aware of. It is easy to be distracted by phones, pets, or anything in your own space, so ensuring your sessions are uninterrupted becomes a main priority when online.

‘Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? Okay let me reconnect!’ These phrases have become common during online calls and can be very disruptive when trying to set the space for a coaching session. All the possible technical difficulties can sneak up on us. From wonky internet connections to virtual glitches, they can make a great coaching session turn in an instant. But hey, we'll tackle them head-on. We'll be adaptable, troubleshoot in real-time, and keep the momentum going.

And let's not forget, there's a little something missing online. You know those little cues - a nod, a smile - they're not as easy to pick up. The energy exchange you get in the same room? Well, it's a bit different. So, we'll put in that extra effort to build a solid connection. It's like finding a groove, even through the screen! Making sure to understand your coachee and how they are perceiving certain ques is important and vital to make online coaching work.

On the other side of the coin is the almost ‘old-school’ in-person meetings. You know what's great about meeting up in person? It's that instant connection you get. When you're in the same room, you can feel that immediate trust and understanding. It's like you're building a solid foundation right from the start. This is harder to do online and one of the things that makes in-person so unique to the global tech age we live in. Everybody is wanting that human connection and coaching in-person has huge upsides to reaching that. 

And let's not forget about all those little gestures and expressions. In face-to-face sessions, you have access to the full range of non-verbal cues and expressions, including – the nods, the smiles, and even the furrowed brows. It's like an extra layer of insight that adds so much to the conversation. These expressions can go unnoticed in online calls but add a huge understanding in the dynamic of the relationship and session.

Plus, being in a dedicated coaching space really sets the stage. There are fewer distractions, so you can really focus on the task at hand. It's like creating your own little bubble of productivity. It can also be a place where the coachee feels comfortable to escape to if their home/work environment is stressful and unwelcoming to the thought of a free and fresh mindset.

Now, when it comes to meeting up in person, there are a few things to consider. Like, what if you're not exactly next door to your coach? That could be a bit of a challenge. The logistics of getting everyone in the same place can be a bit tricky, especially if you're coming from different corners of the map. This limits your coaching skills to the distance of a drive or bus ride, as many people cannot travel too far and will go to closer people to get the guidance they seek.

And let's talk about scheduling. Coordinating in-person sessions? It can be a bit like trying to solve a puzzle. Between travel time and finding a time slot that works for everyone, it might mean fewer sessions overall, and this could end up being a deterrent factor in making coaching move from a part time thing to a full on coaching career where you can change many people's lives in all areas of the world. Also, you might not have quite as much wiggle room with in-person coaching. Unlike online sessions, where you can hop on from wherever, whenever, in-person meetings might need a bit more planning. It's like trading a bit of flexibility for that face-to-face connection.

An experienced Erickson coach shared their perspective on the online vs. in-person coaching debate: ”the main differences are mostly logistical as I believe the experience of coaching can be equally transformative for the client either in person or online. Online offers ease and flexibility in scheduling sessions. It also allows certain clients to feel more comfortable to explore in their own private space. Online coaches have less visual and body language cues so their listening and intuitive skills are heightened. Online coaches need to be more creative if they are using thinking spaces and movement as part of the coaching session. Still very doable, and I believe you can sense your client's energy online in the same way you can in person. I prefer online because of the flexibility and the knowledge that the same powerful experience can emerge regardless. Our Coach Position is borderless so can be accessed and leveraged in any capacity.”

Both online and in-person coaching methods have their distinct strengths and challenges. The decision between the two ultimately depends on individual preferences, specific coaching needs, and the nature of the coaching relationship. By weighing these factors carefully, coaches and clients can make informed choices that lead to effective and fulfilling coaching experiences. Have you tried both of these coaching avenues, and which is the best way to coach going forward?